Influencer: Anh Pham
This page is part of our “Influencers” section, where I will tell the stories of historic figures of the past as well as present day people who are positively influencing our city. I plan on doing a deep-comb of every person featured and really learning who they are or were. I will also include places we can still visit today that they either helped create or plaques in memory of them.
Anh is an artist on every level and has worked in almost every medium, sharing his talent through both visual and musical expression. He recently wrote a children’s book inspired by his 4-legged companion, Phatty. The book was so moving it brought me to tears! Phatty is a licensed emotional-therapy dog who Anh would bring to hospitals and nursing homes to help uplift everyone around. I would like to share the interview I did with him and some of his amazing crafts!
Tell me about your upbringing. Where did you grow up?
I was born in Saigon Vietnam during the Vietnam war. In 1975 my mother barely escaped our war torn country, by boat with me, my brother and my sister. She eventually arrived in New York with her three children and only $300. After finding our way to the West Coast, I grew up in San Diego where our family currently resides.
Do you remember when you fell in love with art? What are your earliest memories? And where has your artistic journey gone?
Growing up poor and somewhat under-privileged in Southern California, I took out a lot of my frustrations in the street. I began to skateboard being exposed to a lot of that culture here.
It wasn’t until I went to a gigantic halfpipe, in the back of Charlie King’s house that I saw my first bright, trippy and unreadable graffiti letters. It was a piece! A masterpiece! I remember staring at the elements of line, contour, color and shading, dimension and the use of characters from the alphabet.
The rest was history as I begin to manipulate the letters of the alphabet into my own graffiti letters. It was at this point at age 10 when I taught myself how to airbrush.
From that point on, I have always considered myself an airbrush artist as it has literally and physically shaped who I am as an artist.
Whether I use this tool in graffiti, murals, portraits, landscapes, wildlife, I always give credit 2 my early days of seeing that Masterpiece at Charlie King’s house
As an artist I create paintings. As a Creator I develop my own destiny and paint my own story love life. Since the Coronavirus hit the world in early March I have been quarantining myself in my home in Rosarito Beach.
Because all of my plans for continuing my wine and paint classes throughout San Diego, upcoming showcases and gallery exhibitions as well as lots of other socially involved event were cancelled, I’ve re-developed my life as an artist.
I now draw in the sand using heavy meditation and prayer to create my sand art. I began to create art in the sand as a physical act of Prayer 4 the world, it’s problems and it’s people.
You recently published a book about your amazing dog Phatty, which teaches some hard lessons about loss but also love. The book is so touching it brought tears to both me and my partner’s eyes. Can you tell us a little more about what inspired this book, about Phatty and also where it can be purchased?
I have always tried to tell a story with my paintings and giving the viewer something back to take with them. Apart from giving back with my art, I enjoy giving back to my community through volunteering.
I have a sweet little Lhasa Apso named Phatty, and together we are a certified therapy animal team visiting the elderly and hospitals, children in reading programs at school and many other volunteering opportunities.
This healing that my doggie possesses and the work she does inspired me to write a children’s book about her love and healing. It features her likeness but as a 500 foot Love Giant.
The book is called the ‘Last of the Phatty Love Giants‘. It is a book about a journey through deserts, mountains and oceans to find love and friendship.
Can you tell me about your music? How long have you been playing the flute and what inspired you to learn how to play it?
Aside from creating visually oh, I also like to express myself musically. Ever since I was a little boy I’ve always collected different flutes, learning how to play them just expressing. When I was about 21 years years-old, a friend that I met named Lavada Cordasco truly saw promise in me, both in my art and just in my life in general.
It was then that my dear friend gifted me a shiny Alto flute. All of the flutes that I’ve ever played with in my life have been traditional bamboo flutes, so when I was gifted this life-changing tool I was hooked immediately. This flute is now my voice and I paint music notes for the ears to see.